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OFFICIAL HISTORY: ITS PITFALLS AND CRITERIA
ungracious to try to press him on a point too far, or
because it does not occur to one that something more
could be extracted from him by importunate endeavour.
In this sense all is not loss if our historian-detective even
makes himself locally unpopular; for (to take "an
imaginary case) if he communicates to us his judgment
that the Foreign Office does not burn important papers,
the point is not without its interest; but we could only
attach weight to the judgment if he had gone into the
matter with all the alertness of an hostile enquirer and
with a keenly critical view concerning the kind of
evidence which'could possibly authorise a detective to
come to such a conclusion. And if an historian were
to say: " This particular group of documents ought
not to be published, because it would expose the officials
concerned to serious misunderstandings", then we must
answer that he has already thrown in his lot with
officialdom—akeady he is thinking of their interests
rather than ours; for since these documents, by
definition, carry us outside the framework of story that
somebody wants to impose on us, they are the very ones
that the independent historian must most desire. To
be sure, no documents can be published without laying
many people open to grievous misunderstanding. In
this connection an uncommon significance must attach
therefore to the choice of the people who are to be
spared. The only way to reduce misunderstanding is
to keep up the clamour for more and more of the strategic
kinds of evidence.

In keeping with this view, no matter whether the
papers in question are those of one's own government

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